(This story was an entry for Clue #6 in the 2013 Treasure Hunt -- see the collection for related stories and images! It's also a story featuring the trolls. For other "Stories about Trolls", see the listing.)
Standing at near full attention for what had seemed half a day, Cog waited, watching as the Tinkers' first, Stillpoint, finished her meticulous notes and cleaned till she was satisfied with the organization of her workspace. He knew he was being made to wait because of his most recent breach of protocol, and he could well imagine what lecture he would receive when the first was ready. It was one he had heard before, and one that he knew he deserved this time.
Cog had been practicing for his training exercises, off-duty, in one of the unused tunnels. Though the trolls had the technology to create controlled explosions, new students were still expected to demonstrate their knowledge and application of it during training. He had only wanted to be certain he was prepared for the next day’s tests, but in his excitement at practicing on his own, he had accidentally caused a tunnel to partially collapse.
He knew he had been fortunate not to have been buried by either the rocks or the beams, but he was also excited about putting his knowledge to actual practice, and was eager to talk with Stillpoint about what he had learned. If she would listen.
"Cog," Stillpoint's tense voice interrupted his thoughts, "Haven’t you learned in your classes how to control an explosion?"
Shamed by her question - he did know how, but hadn’t - he stumbled for an answer. "Yes, Stillpoint, but..."
She cut him off. "You will never be able to control an explosion unless you learn to control yourself. You must follow protocol and safety procedures, even when you're not officially working. I appreciate what you were trying to do, but you must do better. Do I make myself clear?"
It was probably the shortest lecture she had ever given him, and he wondered if there was more going on than he realized. He knew better than to ask. She was right - he did need to learn more control, even if it wasn't always as fun as the adventures and mishaps he seemed to be prone to finding. And... she hadn't told him not to try again. He knew he must be grateful, and gracious.
"You were most clear. Thank you, Stillpoint."